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- Emeritus
Thomas Kensler

Departmental Affiliations

Center & Institute Affiliations

Thomas Kensler, PhD, a translational scientist specializing in cancer prevention, researches the suitability of broccoli sprout beverages that may block harmful effects of environmental carcinogens.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room E7030

Research Interests

chemical carcinogenesis; chemoprevention; hepatocarcinogenesis; reactive oxygen; antioxidants; enzyme induction; aflatoxin; chlorophyllin; sulforaphane; Keap1; Nrf2; triterpenoids; biomarkers
Experiences & Accomplishments
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Hamilton College
Research interests in my laboratory focus on the biochemical and molecular mechanisms involved in the induction of cancer by chemicals to serve as a basis for the prevention, interruption or reversal of these processes in man. We study adaptive responses to endogenous and exogenous stress as targets for cancer prevention with a primary focus on the KEAP1-NRF2 signaling pathway. Our work includes the discovery and translation of small molecule activators of the pathway, genetically engineered murine models to probe the functional reach of the pathway alone and through cross-talk with other signaling networks, and the conduct of clinical trials of NRF2 inducers, such as the broccoli-derived compound sulforaphane, in populations unavoidably exposed to high levels of environmental carcinogens,notably those associated with exposures to high levels of air pollutants in this Yangtze River basin area of China. Our latest intervention with a broccoli sprout beverage has demonstated a rapid and sustained increase in rates of detoxication of pollutant carcinogens and irritants.
Honors & Awards
2007 AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention
2009 Society of Toxicology Translational Impact Award
2009 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in Public Health Studies, Johns Hopkins University (undergraduates)
2011 National Friendship Award, Beijing, People’s Republic of China
2012 Oxygen Club of California - Jarrow Formulas Health Science Prize (shared with Masayuki Yamamoto)
2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021 Thomsen Reuters Highly Cited Researcher
2015 NCI Outstanding Investigator Award
2021 Awardee: Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the National Cancer Act – Champions and Changemakers: NCI Division of Cancer Prevention
Select Publications
Selected publications from the past 5 years.
  • Yamamoto, M., Kensler, T.W., and Motohashi, H. (2018) The Keap1-Nrf2 system: a thiol-based sensor-effector apparatus for the maintenance of redox homeostasis. Physiol. Rev, 98: 1169-1203.
  • Chen, J.G., Johnson, J.L., Egner, P.A., Ng, D.K., Zhu, J., Wang, J.B., Xue, X.F., Sun,, Y., Zhang, Y.H., Lu, L.L., Chen, Y.S., Wu, Y., Zhu, Y.R., Carmella, S.G., Stephen S. Hecht, S.S., Jacobson, L.P., Muñoz, A., Kensler, K.H., Rule, A.M., Fahey, J.W., Kensler, T.W., and Groopman, J.D. (2019) Dose-dependent detoxication of the airborne pollutant benzene by broccoli sprout beverage in Qidong, China. Amer. J. Clin. Nutr., 110: 675-684.
  • Yagishita, Y., Fahey, J.W., Dinkova-Kostova, A.T. and Kensler, T.W. (2019) Broccoli or sulforaphane: is it the source or dose that matters? Molecules, 24: 3593.
  • Fahey, J.W. and Kensler, T.W. (2021) The challenges of designing and implementing clinical trials with broccoli sprouts . . . and turning evidence into public health action. Frontiers in Nutrition, doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.648788.
  • Yagishita, Y., Chartoumpekis, D.V., Kensler, T.W., Wakabayashi , N. (2022) Nrf2 and Moirai: Life and death decisions on cell fates. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, doi: 10.1089/ars.2022.0200.
Liver Cancer, HBV and Aflatoxin